Humor and the Healing Arts: A Multimethod Analysis of Humor Use in Healthcare

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Overview

Offering a social scientific look at humor's role in medical transactions, this volume is based on extensive field study in seven medical settings. It includes excerpts from dozens of actual conversations between patients and caregivers. Analysis of these episodes reveals that humor is a practical tool used to meet many medical objectives. It is used by patients to good-naturedly complain and to campaign for more personal attention, and by caregivers to get attention, make amends, insist on unpleasant routines, and establish rapport.

Examining humor from many angles, the book begins with a phenomenological analysis of the essence of funny. This section describes what makes some things funny but not others, and how to distinguish between potentially funny and unfunny episodes in medical situations. From an ethnographic perspective, joking around is shown to be a persuasive element of medical culture. Examples illustrate how patients and caregivers use humor to negotiate the dialectics between helping and hurting, and individuality and compliance. Additionally, a close-up look at three medical transactions shows how humor is used to help a physical therapy patient overcome fear and queasiness, reduce the embarrassment of a mammography, and defuse a potential conflict between a student aide and a young patient. A final section examines techniques for initiating conversational humor.

In sum, this volume provides an intimate and realistic look at medical conversations as they are conducted every day. It serves as a valuable complement to health communication texts and offers information of interest to health communication scholars, healthcare practitioners, and anyone interested in the effects and techniques of conversational humor. Richly grounded in naturally occurring data, the book can be understood and used effectively by both scholars and practitioners.

Focuses on techniques of humor, its effects, & appropriateness in health care settings, communication/trmt

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
1 Introduction 3
2 Related Literature in Health Communication 9
3 Related Humor Literature 19
4 Conceptual Foundations 31
5 Overview of Humor in Health Care Settings 37
6 About Phenomenology 47
7 The Essence of Funny 49
8 Funny in Relation to Health Care 61
9 The Ethnographic Approach 67
10 Torture by Hickey Machine: We're All in This Together 75
11 Discreet Humor in a Breast Care Center 88
12 Empathic Humor in a Doctor's Office 100
13 Overview and Significance of Humor in Medical Settings 110
14 The Rules of the Humor Game 117
15 Humor and the Code of Dignity 121
16 Humor and the Code of Compassion 132
17 Overview and Significance of Humor and Appropriateness 141
18 Ethnomethodological Approach 145
19 Candid Camera and Gestalt Psychology 151
20 Playful Management of Three Dilemmas 157
21 Laughter-Coated Complaints 166
22 Summary 183
23 A Few Cautions 186
24 Limitations and Strengths 189
25 Suggestions for Application 192
26 Parting Observations 198
App. A The Relationship Between Conversational Context and Structure 202
App. B Transcription Guide 205
App. C Discovery Model 208
App. D Philosophy Statement 210
References 212
Author Index 222
Subject Index 226
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